Bearded Dragons

Description-A large active Australian agama, various colour morphs are becoming available. Total size is up to 24" but half of this is tail. They can live over 8 years in captivity.

Housing-Can be kept in small groups and if cage is large enough, more than 1 male can be kept together. Very fine sand is an ideal substrate but they can be kept equally well on newspaper. The key is a dry environment! The size of the vivarium obviously depends on how many dragons you wish to keep in it, but a good guide would be 4.5 square foot of floor space for 1 pair (a viv 3ft x 18") and then an extra 1.5 sq ft for each additional dragon. If extra space can be provided, then try and do so as these are only guided minimums. The vivarium should include a hide area, some branches, a basking area, a cooler area and a water bowl. Bearded dragons tend to sleep at night on branches, and also love to bask on a branch under the spot lamp, this will help to create plenty of temperature variations in the vivarium (they have the opportunity to boost their temp by basking right under the heat source on a branch, or by basking on the ground under the same heat source). 

Temp and light requirements-UV lighting is required, Reptisun 5.0 or 8.0 is perfect. The photo period should be set at 16 hours on and 8 hours off. Heating should always be provided at one end, with a heat gradient ranging from 36oc down to 24oc. A night time temperature drop will not not harm them if no more than a drop of 8oc (i.e. min night temp of 16oC). Heat can be provided by either a ceramic bulb or a incandescent SPOT light, both of which should be wired into a DIMMING thermostat. It is normally better to use a lower wattage heat source that stays on for longer, rather than a heat source that the thermostat keeps turning off (therefore the dragons always have a basking area). Heat pads are NOT recommended for Bearded Dragons as they must be able to bask under a heat source.

Foods and Feeding-Bearded dragons are omnivores and are easily catered for. A selection of insect livefoods and vegetables should be fed. Locust are by far the best food source out of the insects but any of the crickets can also be used. When feeding, feed enough so as they don't fight for food but not too much that the vivarium is running alive with insects, this is especially true of Black Crickets, these have been known to kill lizards while they sleep. Mealworms and wax worms can also be fed. Variety is always the key, with locust making the bulk of the diet and then a nice mix of the other insects. The dragons should show interest in the food when it enters the cage, if not, it is a good sign you are feeding them too much. Adult bearded dragons CAN get fat! With the vegetables, you can chop a selection of veg into a bowl, this can be topped up daily or provided 3 to 4 times a week. You can try almost anything for your dragons, from sweet corn to strawberries, brocolli to greens, you will soon learn which are YOUR dragons favourites. Try not too provide too much fruit, maybe a max of 10%. If they start to choose ONLY the fruit, then withhold it for a week or so until they start back on the veg. You can also feed dragons on defrosted pinkie mice, this is especially good for egg laying females. Nutrobal vitamin supplements should be used at least 5 times a week on growing dragons, and then twice a week on adults. Females can have supplements on every feed during egg laying. Fresh water should also be available, they tend to defecate in the water dish a lot, so this needs to be cleaned regularly. Live flies (hatched from NON dyed maggots) give the dragons great sport, they will love to chase these and will catch them in mid air while the fly flies past! Although these offer almost nothing in the way of nutrition, they do provide much needed exercise for the dragons and it's fun to watch too.

Overall rating / Comments-10 out of 10, great lizard for beginner or serious collector, just be aware that they eat a lot of food and require regular cleaning. They develop great personalities, and interact with people and other bearded dragons very well. They can become extremely tame, will take food from your hands. Please remember, as with ANY PET, please wash your hands after handling or cleaning vivarium.